INTERVIEW
5 min read

Medical School Applications Process : A 2024 Guide

Published on
May 13, 2024
Share

The 2024 Guide to the Australian Medical School Application Process

With the landscape of Medical education constantly evolving, navigating through Med School application process can seem daunting. From understanding the intricacies of GEMSAS to mastering the GAMSAT and optimising your GPA, each component plays a crucial role in the success of your application.

This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the medical school application process in Australia, offering a step-by-step overview of every critical aspect. Whether you're deciphering the GEMSAS system, planning your application timeline, or strategising to enhance your portfolio, our guide provides the insights and advice you need to navigate this complex journey with confidence.

What Is GEMSAS?

GEMSAS offers an online application and matching platform for Australian residents applying to graduate-entry medical programs through GEMSAS in Australia, as well as for Dentistry and Optometry programs at the University of Melbourne.

The GEMSAS system allows preference from three to six medical schools, then uses complex matching algorithms to allocate interviews and offers based on your eligibility and highest preferred medical school. You will be ranked and selected for the Med School interviews according to your performance in the following:

  • GAMSAT
  • GPA
  • A personal statement if required
  • Rurality
  • Bonus scores

GEMSAS and Non-GEMSAS Medical Schools

GEMSAS Med Schools

GEMSAS is run by the GAMSAT consortium, which comprises 10 out of the 13 postgraduate medical schools in Australia. These universities include:

Non-GEMSAS Med Schools

Outside the GEMSAS system, three medical schools offer graduate entry programs: the University of Sydney, Flinders University, and Monash University. The University of Sydney and Flinders University require the GAMSAT exam and direct applications. In contrast, Monash University, since 2017, no longer requires the GAMSAT for admissions. Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree at Monash to apply.

Medical School Application Timeline 2024

Timeframe Action Items
Early March 2024 GAMSAT testing window opens.
Early April 2024 Ensure you have all the relevant official academic transcripts if you attended an institution (NOT participating in ARTS).
This includes any overseas and exchange transcripts for admission purposes as well.
Late April 2024 Online domestic applications typically open at the University of Sydney.
Early May 2024
  1. Closing date for University of Queensland timely prerequisite assessment submissions.
  2. GEMSAS Medicine Applications open.
Late May 2024
  1. Applications for Flinders University open.
  2. Medicine application periods generally close by the end of May.
  3. GAMSAT results are released.
Mid-June 2024 Deadline for submitting supporting documents if required (official transcripts from non-ARTS institutions, ELC documentation, school-specific and rurality supporting documents).
Late June 2024 Application period for Flinders University typically closes.
Mid-July 2024 Final chance to upload official transcripts from non-ARTS institutions to GEMSAS for those completing undergraduate studies within the year.
Early September 2024 Interview offers start to roll out.
Late September 2024 Interview season kicks off, continuing into early October for some universities.
Early November 2024 Initial offers for medicine programs are released.
December 2024 Period for additional offers begins, extending into January.
January 2025 Medicine programs commence.

GAMSAT Essentials for 2024 Applicants

The Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is a pivotal step in your journey to medical school. Remember, a valid GAMSAT score is indispensable for your application through GEMSAS for any graduate-entry medical program in Australia. The good news? GAMSAT scores now enjoy a longer validity period of four years from the test date.

Extended Validity: GAMSAT is valid for 4 years now

This extension from two to four years offers significant benefits. It means that a commendable score can last longer, potentially sparing you the need (and cost) of multiple GAMSAT attempts. For a deeper dive into how this change might affect your preparation and strategy, check out our detailed discussion on GAMSAT results now valid for four years.

Here's how it pans out for upcoming applications:

  • March 2024 GAMSAT scores are valid for applications in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027.
  • September 2024 GAMSAT scores will serve you well for 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2028 applications.

And it doesn't stop there. This four-year validity applies retrospectively, broadening your options. For instance, if you're applying in 2024 for courses starting in 2025, you can draw on GAMSAT scores from as far back as September 2020.

Navigating GAMSAT Scores

For those eyeing to start their Med School in 2025, here's a snapshot of the GAMSAT scores you can leverage:

  • Applying in 2024 for 2025? Your toolkit can include GAMSAT scores from September 2020, May 2021, September 2021, March 2022, September 2022, March 2023, September 2023, and March 2024.

This extended validity not only offers flexibility but also underscores the importance of a strategic approach to your GAMSAT preparation and application timing.

Understanding University-Specific GAMSAT Section Weighting

The breakdown of your GAMSAT scores across Sections 1 (S1), 2 (S2), and 3 (S3) plays a pivotal role in strengthening your GEMSAS application. This is because different medical schools assign varying levels of importance to the scores of these sections, particularly Section 3 (S3).

For instance, The University of Melbourne, University of Queensland and the University of Notre Dame (Sydney and Fremantle) take the mean average of the individual scores across the three sections. All other universities in the GEMSAS consortium use the traditional GAMSAT section weighting system, which weights S3 twice as much as S1 and S2. This is the score that you would have received on GAMSAT results day. Let’s use an example to demonstrate how the weighting system matters:

Jill is a hypothetical student with a background in Law. She performed extremely well in S1 and S2, achieving scores of 72 and 70 respectively, but performed comparatively poorly in S3 with a score of 65. Let’s see the difference between the two weighting systems.

Under the mean average system, her balanced skills are recognised equally. However, in the traditional weighting system, her lower S3 score could disproportionately affect her overall GAMSAT score, potentially influencing her application's success.

Strategic Application Planning

This variance underscores the importance of aligning your application with institutions whose scoring system best reflects your strengths. For instance, applicants with a strong S3 score but weaker S1 or S2 scores might prefer universities using the traditional weighting system and vice versa.

For deeper insight into past GAMSAT acceptances and to gauge the range of scores typically entertained by different universities, refer past GAMSAT & GPA Average Score Cut-off.

Navigating GPA in Your Medical School Application

GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a crucial metric in your medical school application, representing the weighted average of your grades over the final three years of your Bachelor's degree. To simplify GPA calculations, we've developed an easy-to-use GPA calculator.

Degree Age and Postgraduate Work

Most institutions require the degree to be completed in the last 10 years (except UWA!), unless postgraduate study has been undertaken in the meantime. Where postgraduate study has been undertaken, it depends on the university as to whether or not they use it in the calculation of the GPA.

University-Specific Considerations

Much like GAMSAT, each institution can vary in the way that they consider your GPA. The general rule is that the last three years of academic study are used. In the instance where a previous degree was four years long, or had an additional honours year embedded or attached, the GPA calculation would involve the final three years of study, and therefore exclude first year from the GPA calculation.

Important Honours Information

  • The University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia require Honours to be completed by mid-year to be included in GPA calculations.
  • Griffith University mandates that Honours must be completed for inclusion in any GPA calculation.
  • In situations where Honours subjects are available, institutions may either consider the overall Honours grade, as is the case for the University of Queensland, or only consider Honours subjects as is the case for the University of Melbourne, Deakin, and Macquarie.

GPA Calculations Across Universities

General GPA Calculation Method

The GPA is calculated in different ways for different institutions. The most common breakdown is shown below:

Final Average GPA Year (most recent) = Weighted x3

Final-1 Average GPA Year (2nd most recent) = Weighted x2

Final-2 Average GPA Year (3rd most recent) = Weighted x1

The resultant ‘average’ is calculated by dividing the sum of the weighted products by 6. This will factor the weightings across the three years of study to give an overall GPA. This is the classical method of GPA calculation that GEMSAS offers on their website where there is a high degree of emphasis placed on the latter years of study. However, there are several institutions that calculate GPA differently, such as the University of Melbourne.

University of Melbourne's GPA Calculation

Adjusts the weighting to give equal emphasis to the two most recent years of study, like shown below:

Final Average GPA Year (most recent) = Weighted x2

Final-1 Average GPA Year (2nd most recent) = Weighted x2

Final-2 Average GPA Year (3rd most recent) = Weighted x1

University of Western Australia's GPA Calculation

The University of Western Australia weights each year of FTE the same.

University of Queensland's GPA Calculation

The University of Queensland does take into large consideration of your GPA and uses it to rank students.

What Is FTE?

If you are under-loading during your application year, the important numbers to be aware of are 37.5% FTE for the University of Wollongong and the Australian National University and greater than 25% for Deakin and the University of Western Australia. These figures indicate the study-load you have undertaken in Semester 1 and whether or not the subjects in that semester will count towards your GPA at a pre-interview level.

If you don’t meet the cut-offs mentioned above for universities, then these universities will disregard your Semester 1 results and calculate your pre-interview GPA based on previous years. After the medical interview process, if you receive a conditional offer, it will be based on your GPA for your entire degree (including the first and second semesters of the year of application).

In summation, the FTE rule relates to whether or not the university will count your Semester 1 results before the medical interview. However, once you complete your interview, the university will include all your subject results.

The Removal of Portfolios for 2025 Medical School Intake

For applicants to the University of Wollongong, the portfolio has historically been a crucial component of the application process, alongside GPA and GAMSAT scores. However, it's essential to note that for the 2025 intake and onwards, UoW has phased out portfolios from its postgraduate medical applications in Australia. This significant change means that applicants who previously relied on a stellar portfolio to compensate for low GPA/GAMSAT scores no longer have that advantage. This shift particularly impacts older students transitioning from diverse career paths.

Additional Medical School Application Components

University of Notre Dame Introducing CASPer

The University of Notre Dame has transitioned from requiring a portfolio to incorporating the CASPer test as part of its application process. This situational judgment test evaluates qualities essential for future medical professionals, including empathy, ethics, and communication.

The University of Wollongong CASPer + Snapshot Hurdle

Altus Suite: Comprises the CASPer test and Snapshot interview, assessing non-cognitive qualities essential for medical professionals.

Please note that CASPer is not a hurdle but instead used to rank students.

Components:

  • CASPer: A situational judgment test evaluating traits like empathy, ethics, and communication.
  • Snapshot: A brief video interview providing a platform to showcase your personality and interpersonal skills.

Testing Window: Specific dates for CASPer testing are provided annually, with sessions typically held in May and June.

Understanding the Types of Medical School Places

Navigating the various types of places available for medical school can seem daunting. Here's a simplified breakdown to help you understand your options through GEMSAS.

Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP)

CSPs are subsidized by the Commonwealth government, offering a cost-effective path to medical education without any obligation to practice in rural areas—unless you opt for it.

Bonded Medical Places (BMP)

BMPs carry the same cost as CSPs but come with a requirement to practice rurally for a set period. Currently, this involves a three-year Return of Service Obligation (RoSo) within an eighteen-year timeframe, aimed at addressing workforce shortages in rural and remote Australia.

Domestic Full-Fee Places (FEE)

FEE places are not subsidized and carry higher costs, which vary between institutions. Despite the financial difference, FEE places do not affect internship ranking, ensuring equal post-graduation opportunities.

Financial Considerations for FEE Places

It is critical that if you are not financially positioned to pay for a full-fee place that you don’t select that option in your application. If you are successful with an application that you are unable to pay for, you will be ineligible for any place at other universities in your preference list that year. It is completely reasonable to want to preference a CSP at all universities ahead of FEE places, but it is necessary to bare in mind that the GEMSAS system is not built in such a way that permits this flexibility to preference around FEE spots – you either apply for a FEE place at a university, or you do not.

Strategic Application and Ranking

Domestic applications are ranked with the top applicants offered a CSP, the next ranked applicants offered a BMP, and the remainder of successful applicants being offered FEE places. While it’s frustrating to think financially, it’s really important to be honest with yourself so you don’t waste an application cycle by receiving an offer that is out of your price-range.

Optimising Your Medical School Application Preferences

Understanding how to strategically preference universities in your application can significantly enhance your chances of success. Here's how to approach this crucial step.

Aligning Your Strengths with University Requirements

Your application's success hinges on how well your GPA, GAMSAT scores, and additional components like portfolios, personal statements, or CASPer test scores align with a university's specific criteria. It's essential to recognise and leverage your strengths:

  • High GAMSAT Scorers: If your GAMSAT score is a standout, consider prioritising universities that emphasise GAMSAT results over other components.
  • Balancing Weaker GAMSAT Scores: For those with lower GAMSAT scores, a strong portfolio or CASPer test result could tip the scales in your favour at universities that value these elements.

Understanding Bonuses in Your Application

Certain universities offer bonuses under specific conditions, potentially boosting your application.

Griffith, Deakin, and ANU Bonuses

  • Deakin University: Prefers applicants with healthcare backgrounds, Deakin alumni, Geelong residents, or those with financial disadvantages, offering various bonuses to enhance your application.
  • Australian National University (ANU): Provides bonuses for completing higher degrees, such as honours, masters, or PhDs.
  • Griffith University: Awards a 7.0 GPA to PhD holders and a maximum GPA for each full-time year of a Masters by research.

Leveraging these bonuses can provide a competitive edge, especially if you meet the criteria.

The University of Wollongong Bonuses

Bonus Available to
Bonus 1: Commitment to Local Communities Applicants residing in the MM1 Wollongong area for at least five consecutive years.
Bonus 2: Commitment to Rural Health Services Applicants who have lived in rural NSW for at least 5 consecutive years or 10 cumulative years.
Bonus 3: Preference for UOW MD Program Applicants who select the UOW MD program as their first preference in their GEMSAS application.
Bonus 4: Rural Employment Experience Applicants with two or more years of rural employment.
Bonus 5: Health Profession Degree Applicants holding current unconditional registration for any health profession with AHPRA or equivalent.
Bonus 6: Sustained Work Experience Applicants with two or more years of full-time employment.
Bonus 7: Service Commitment Applicants with two or more years of active service in volunteer or emergency services.
Bonus 8: UOW Graduate Applicants with any UOW degree consisting of two or more years of full-time study.
Bonus 9: Academic Excellence for UOW Graduates UOW graduates with an overall weighted GPA of 6.5 or higher.
Bonus 10: Rural High School Attendance Applicants who attended a rural high school for four years or more.

Debunking Medical School Application Myths

A common myth suggests that universities see and consider your preference order when deciding on interviews or offers. This is not the case. Universities focus on selecting the best candidates based on ranking criteria, independent of your preference list. When setting your preferences, consider:

  1. Admission Odds: Realistically assess your chances of admission based on your qualifications and the university's criteria.
  2. University Fit: Ensure the universities you prioritise are places where you'd be happy to study.

Remember, every spot on your preference list is valuable. Make informed choices to align your preferences with universities that best match your strengths and aspirations.

However, please note that while this is the case for most universities, some do care about where you rank them. For example, the University of Wollongong will give you a bonus if applicants rank them first and for the University of Queensland applicants will need to rank them in their top three to be eligible for their rural schemes.

How Medical School Shortlist Interview Candidates

This table provides a clear overview of the criteria used by each university in the GEMSAS consortium to select candidates for medical interviews, highlighting the importance of a balanced application across multiple assessment areas.

Medical School Selection Criteria
University Selection Criteria
Deakin University and The University of Melbourne Combination of GPA and GAMSAT scores, with specific weighting for GPA at Deakin and Mean GAMSAT Score at Melbourne.
The Australian National University and The University of Western Australia Traditional overall GAMSAT score and standard GPA, with UWA using an unweighted GPA.
Griffith University 50/50 mix of unweighted GPA (converted to a percentage) and overall GAMSAT score.
The University of Queensland 50:50 combination of unweighted average GAMSAT score and GPA, converted to a percentage.
The University of Wollongong Performance in CASPer test, combined with GPA, and GAMSAT results; Snapshot may be used as a tie-breaker.
University of Notre Dame, Australia (Fremantle and Sydney) Mix of GPA, unweighted average GAMSAT results, and written submission.
Macquarie University Personal statement as a hurdle, then a 50/50 combination of weighted GPA and traditional GAMSAT score.

Applying as an International Student to Graduate Entry Medical School

International students face a distinct application process for graduate entry medical programs in Australia. Here's a guide to navigating this process effectively.

How To Apply for Medicine as an International Student

International students must apply directly to each medical school, bypassing the GEMSAS system. Essential requirements typically include:

  • GPA: From an undergraduate degree completed within the last 10 years.
  • Standardised Tests: GAMSAT or MCAT scores, depending on the school's requirements.
  • Language Proficiency: If you have not completed your undergraduate degree in English, then you must demonstrate proficiency by taking the IELTS exam.
  • Additional Requirements: Portfolios and personal statements may also be required by some programs.

What To Submit as an International Student to Medical School

Your application packet should include:

  • International Application Form: Specific to each medical school.
  • Academic Transcripts: Certified copies of all relevant transcripts.
  • English Language Proficiency: Certified proof, such as IELTS test results.
  • Standardised Test Scores: Certified copies of your GAMSAT or MCAT results.
  • Portfolios/Supplementary Forms: If required by the program.
  • Additional Documents: As outlined in the international application form.

Selection Process for International Students

  • Total Score: Your application will be evaluated based on your submitted documents and performance in the interview.
  • Available Spots: Typically, there are about 10-20 spots available for international students per program.
  • Application Submission: Directly to the medical schools or via a specified agent representing the university in your home country.

Where To From Here:

Now, to more insights for your Med interview prep, check out our articles:

  1. Medical Universities Interview Guide 2024
  2. 3 Lessons From Taking 2000+ Medical Mock MMI's
  3. 5 Common Mistakes To Avoid in Medical Interviews
  4. 5 Essential Tips for Your Medical Interview